Historical Markers
Simpson Ferry Road Historical Marker
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Simpson Ferry Road

Hershey/Gettysburg/Dutch Country Region


Marker Location:
Simpson St. near Walnut St., Mechanicsburg

Dedication Date:
September 29, 1954

Behind the Marker

The Simpson Ferry Road existed prior to its name. A map of Cumberland County made in 1765 shows a road from the Susquehanna to Carlisle running along the same route. This early pathway was called the "Road from Tafes Ferry to Carlisle." Another map made ten years earlier lists only a site on the river called the "Carlisle ferry."

The route became a main artery for traffic passing west during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century. Regardless of who ran the original ferry in the region and what the road was first called, it seems that by the end of the eighteenth century General Michael T. Simpson, a veteran of the American Revolution, was the best known operator of the Cumberland County ferry. Ultimately the road became known as Simpson Ferry Road.

In 1794, a tax revolt against the new federal government occurred in western Pennsylvania. Farmers had become enraged over a new excise tax imposed on grains that were often used to produce alcohol. Secretary of Treasury Alexander Hamilton persuaded President George Washington to send troops to suppress this "Whiskey Rebellion." Washington passed through the region on his way to rally the troops who were preparing to put down what was arguably the first great domestic crisis of the new national government. marker In his diary, Washington noted that he crossed the Susquehanna at Harrisburg and proceeded along with the "detachment of the Philadelphia light horse" into Carlisle. While Washington makes no specific mention of the Simpson Ferry Road in his diary, it is likely that he traveled along its path since it was then the main route to Carlisle.

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